by Gurujot Singh Khalsa
When I went to school in India (Amritsar) it was difficult to learn Punjabi in the classroom. No one seemed to learn it because the “Punjabi Ma’am” would give us lists and lists of obscure vocabulary words to memorize. I noticed that it was only the students who made connections with local Punjabi speakers and really spent time talking to people, that learned Punjabi. I might have learned a bunch of vocabulary words but I didn’t have the basic grasp on the language in order to use and even recognize them.
I always tried to learn Punjabi, and one year I graduated to the “Advanced Punjabi” class. The teacher tried to just simply talk to us in Punjabi. That sounded like the perfect idea, but she would say a complicated sentence we didn’t understand, then say “Ok, let me just say this in English so you understand”. The Punjabi speaking and learning ended with that statement.
It’s been years now that I’ve graduated and left India. Now I’m in an English only environment. But I’ve still held on to a little hope that one day I will learn Punjabi. I’ve dreamed that one day Rosetta Stone would make a Punjabi learning software. Now, I started to learn Brazilian Portuguese with the Pimsleur method. I found it to be very easy, fast, and useful.
I was really excited when I found out that the Pimsleur program just launched their Punjabi learning level 1! I just listened to the free sample. It was a little surreal hearing the audio in Punjabi. I almost can’t believe that it has been done. I did know everything in the first sample lesson, but it made me really exited about the following units.
After looking it up, I realized what I liked about the program. The Pimsleur method uses the following principles:
Anticipation – Instead of repeating after a teacher, this is a “challenge and respond” method that requires the student to translate a phrase themselves. This reflects real-life conversations.
Graduated-interval recall – A method where reviewing learned vocabulary at increasingly longer intervals. I really like this because I’ve learned so many things and forgotten them later because it wasn’t repeated enough.
Core vocabulary – Focusing on the most commonly used words. A relatively small core vocabulary accounts for the majority of words spoken in a particular language. This is great. The program starts off with some basic survival conversations.
Organic Learning – It is all audio. Instead of learning technical grammer, reading, writing and cramming a bunch of vocabularies, you just listen to the MP3 and follow the audio prompts.
You can listen to unit 1 as a free sample. Then you can buy the entire level 1 (30 units) or just 5 unit packages for about $20 each.
The program comes in MP3 or CD depending on how you want to buy it. Each track is an individual 30 min. lesson that builds off of the last one. That’s one thing I really liked about the Pimsluer program, is that it brushes up on the conversation you learned in previous lessons, and builds on it, so you are always reinforcing the things you’ve learned, so you can actually retain it.
Gora (white) Sikhs like myself that I’ve talked to about it, are very excited. This is a God-send for so many Sikhs who’ve always wanted to learn Punjabi. I think there is no better way to make a connection with someone than to speak to them in their mother language. Now we have a better chance of connecting to our brothers and sisters in India who don’t speak English. There are also more and more Punjabi youth who don’t speak Punjabi because they are born and raised in Western countries. Many of the older generation are very concerned about that.
My personal appeal is that people don’t pirate/share the program too much, because if we do that, then the Pimsleur program won’t make a profit, and then there will be no reason for them to create a Punjabi level 2. In any case, I’m grateful to have this resource. If you are too, then spread the word. And the next time you see me, I might be rattling off some knowledge from listening to Giani Sant Singh Ji Maskeen’s katha.
Click here to learn about the program, take a free lesson, and start learning Punjabi. (Pimsleur said that you can receive a special discount code by listening to a free lesson.)
If you try it out, let me know what you think!
- Gurujot Singh